Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thornhill by Pam Smy

When picturing a traditional ghost story, I envision someone dying of mysterious causes, hanging around the place of their untimely demise, and interacting with those left behind – often with nefarious intentions. This graphic novel takes the traditional ghost story setup and adds an interwoven tale of friendship. Thornhill is the story of Mary and Ella. Mary is an orphan living at the Thornhill Institute in the early 1980s. Ella is a young girl in 2017. 

Ella and her father have just moved to the house across the street from the boarded up old Thornhill house, and she sees a young girl in the window and gardens of the estate. Smy’s wonderful drawing hold a touch of anticipation while capturing the loneliness of both girls. And, while Thornhill is not particularly scary, there is emotional turmoil as the reader witnesses the torrent of bullying and emotional abuse  Mary endures from another orphan at the institute. The inability of the adults in her life to intervene is frustrating, especially as the reader can see that things are going to end poorly for the girls at Thornhill house.

Thornhill is a graphic novel for middle grade readers who enjoy a good ghost story. If you are looking for another middle grade ghost story I highly recommend Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Haun.

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